National Day for Truth & Reconciliation calls for recognition of the harsh realities that Indigenous communities have experienced and continue to experience — specifically the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system. The day honours the lives of the children who never came home and the survivors, along with their families and communities.

While being a day that calls for serious action and focus, it is important to celebrate the resiliency of Indigenous cultures, traditions, and languages. If you’re reading this, you might be curious, and that’s good. According to Shayla Oulette Stonechild, get curious!

“I would invite you to replace the fear mindset with one of curiosity.”

Stonechild is Métis and Nehiyaw from Muscowpetung First Nations, Treaty 4 territory. Currently residing on unceded Mohawk territory, Tiohtiá:ke, also known as Montreal. Stonechild is a creator, artist, wellness advocate, and founder of Matriarch Movement, a non-profit organization focused on “shifting the narrative around Indigenous women.”

It’s no secret that many people feel apprehensive when this day comes around. It can be nerve-wracking to take that initial step in learning and participating in something as important as this. When certain cultural events come around, often so do the cold feet.

Shayla Oulette Stonechild | Courtesy of Lululemon Athletica

Stonechild says taking the first step is supposed feel that way — like the first day of school. “We go to school to learn, to educate ourselves and learn how to be in relationship with the people around us,” she says. “It’s all around better for our own personal growth and eventually leads to a better future for us all because of what we witness and become a part of.”

“Get curious about the history and ongoing realities within Canada and its relationship to Indigenous people. Get curious about the many teachings, languages, and lived experiences we come from as Indigenous people.”

Stonechild says unlearning or re-learning something is going to feel awkward or uncomfortable. “Isn’t that the way we evolve as human beings?” she adds.

“I would say it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions as we begin to unravel the shadow and darker sides of our shared history and humanity,” Stonechild says, telling people not to tune out those emotions but to lean into them.

Stonechild breaks it down, explaining that the process of healing begins when we start to uncover deeper truths within ourselves. “It has to happen with our own minds (and) our own hearts, so that eventually we see that healing begins within ourselves before it can happen within the community and the world around us.”

She asks for people to speak their truth and listen to others. “It’s about balance and harmony,” she adds.

“Ask yourself, what did you learn about Indigenous people growing up (and) whose history were you taught? From what worldview? Whose voices and lived experiences were missing? Which languages were left out? If you want to learn about a culture, you learn the language because it holds the worldview.”

Moving forward, Stonechild says one step to take is to listen to Indigenous voices, artists, and authors. She encourages people to “find ways within their own workplace” to implement the 94 Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, emphasizing that she would like to see more than 13 of the 94 calls be met.

The following resources have been provided by Stonechild:

Matriarch Movement podcast
All My Relations podcast
21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph
Indigenomics by Carol Anne Hilton
Sacred Instructions by Sherri Mitchell
Free online Indigenous course presented by the University of Alberta


Crisis hotlines provided by the Government of Canada:

The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides 24-hour crisis support to former Indian Residential School students and their families toll-free at 1-866-925-4419.

Individuals impacted by the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are encouraged to contact the MMIWG Crisis Line toll-free at 1-844-413-6649.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis seeking immediate emotional support can contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310, or by online chat at